Based on this showing it’s hard to imagine Chester FC remaining a National League side beyond the end of this season.
Shapeless and lacking any real plan, the Blues were soundly beaten by a Gateshead side who hadn’t won since November and who had been looking over their shoulder coming into the game, sitting six points above the drop zone. It was shambolic.
But a dreadful 60 second spell just before half time that saw Paddy McLaughlin and Jordan Burrow net, and some hapless defending seven minutes after the break that allowed Jordan Preston to make it 3-0, meant that Chester were put to the sword and their slim hopes of survival dealt a hammer blow.
Harry White did pull one back but Chester never really looked like finding a way back into the contest . And although improved for the final 20 minutes or so, it did not mask a woeful performance of the ilk that has been all too familiar this season.
There was no Tom Shaw in the line up after he completed a permanent move to National League North side Tamworth 24-hours before, ending his two-and-a-half year association with the club.
But there was one new face in the Chester squad, with wing-back Shepherd Murombedzi handed a first start after arriving at the club on Friday afternoon following his release from Solihull Moors earlier in the week.
Ross Hannah was a notable absentee after picking up an injury in training late in the week meaning Chester had no strikers on the bench.
The Heed had former Chester man Theo Vassell in their starting line up while Nyal Bell, on loan with the Blues earlier this season, took a place on the bench.
Prior to kick off a minutes applause was held to remember the late, great Cyrille Regis, who ended his illustrious career at Chester in 1996. How the Blues could have done with his genius this season.
There was little in the way of quality in the opening exchanges, although Harry White saw a 18-yard effort deflect wide for a corner after decent hold up play from Murombedzi.
And Andy Halls had to be alert to produce a superb slide tackle to dispossess Jordan Preston after he had broken clear from the halfway line after picking off a poor pass from Murombedzi.
The first real chance of the game for either side fell to the hosts on 18 minutes when a superb Lucas Dawson cross was nodded down at the far post by White for Ryan Astles whose low effort from 12 yards struck the foot of the post and out to safety.
At the other end Gateshead started to ask some questions.
Former Wrexham winger Wes York twisted and turned his way to the byline to put in an inviting cross across the six yard box but James Jones was alive to the danger to turn it away.
And moments later Preston found room to get away an angled low effort that Sam Hornby dealt with comfortably at his near post.
Five minutes before the break the visitors almost found themselves ahead when a corner from the right was whipped in on to the head of Neill Byrne whose effort was blocked on the line by a combination of Hornby and White while the rebound found its way to Russell Penn whose strike deflected clear and out to safety.
But while the Blues needed to stand firm and get into the break level in order to regroup, they folded like a deck of cards.
Some abysmal defending on the stroke of half time had Gateshead in front.
A corner came in and found Burrow who found McLaughlin in space who rifled past Hornby to hand the Heed the advantage.]
And if that wasn’t bad enough it was to be 2-0 less than 60 seconds later.
Chester couldn’t get near York on the right and he cut in, feeding Burrow who turned and slotted in the far corner to bring about a chorus of boos among the home fans.
Bignot had told fans in the week to judge them ‘off the ball’. Well they did, and it was bad.
HALF TIME: CHESTER 0 GATESHEAD 2
In need of something to spark some life into his side, Bignot threw on Craig Mahon and Tom Crawford at the break at the expense of the ineffective Dawson and Murombedzi.
The Blues needed to start the second half well but the game was done as a contest on 52 minutes.
With Chester pressing high up the pitch, Gateshead pinched possession and moved the ball swiftly from back to front and, with Mahon unable to clear as the last man, Preston curled past Hornby from 18 yards. It was shambolic stuff.
The visitors thought it was 4-0 minutes later when a York cross was turned home by Preston, but the flag was already raised, not that it would have made much difference.
Chester were shambolic across the pitch and were void of any shape, with Gateshead carving them open at will.
And York should have extended the lead when he burst through on goal thanks to some non-existant marking only to scoop over the bar when one on one with Hornby.
Preston went close on 65 minutes, seeing a 20-yarder flash just over.
But the Blues did pull a goal back with just over 20 minutes left when the first decent move of the match saw Jordan Gough advance beyond the full back before sliding in a pass to White who swept home from 12 yards.
That sparked a bit more urgency from the Blues going forward, but it was still too little, too late.
White should have done better on 73 minutes when he found himself in space on the left of the area, but his weak cross to a lurking Akintunde was easily picked off by Dan Hanford in the Heed goal.
There was to be no late drama, though, and Gateshead comfortably saw out the game to leave Chester five points adrift with time running out fast.
Chester: Hornby, Murombedzi (Mahon 46), Jones, Astles, Gough, Halls, James, Turnbull, Dawson (Crawford 46), White, Akintunde. Subs not used: Lynch, Rowe-Turner, McCombe.
Bookings: Murombedzi, White.
Goals: White 69.
Gateshead: Hanford, Vassell, Barrow, Byrne, Fyfield, York (Kerr 76), Burrow, Preston, McLaughlin, Penn, Fox. Subs not used: Macleod, O’Donnell, Bell, McNall.
Goals: McLaughlin 44, Burrow 45, Preston 52.
Referee: Alan Dale.
Star man: Tom Crawford.